Makers Boot Camp and FabFoundry plan to join forces to create Monozukuri Ventures, offering comprehensive support to hardware startups, out from Kyoto and New York

Darma Tech Labs, Inc. (a.k.a. Makers Boot Camp)

FabFoundry, Inc.

Kyoto, Japan and New York, US, January 15th, 2020. Darma Tech Labs (operating Makers Boot Camp, headquartered in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto City, Representative Director: Makino Narimasa), a hardware-focused venture capital based in Kyoto, Japan, and FabFoundry (headquartered in New York, USA, Representative Director: Nobuhiro Seki), a New York-based firm that sources and advises hardware startups, today announced their plan to merge forces to build a platform that helps hardware startups grow and succeed, under a jointly created brand called “Monozukuri Ventures” (hereinafter “MZV”). Both companies will accelerate their support to hardware startups with resources such as technical services and funding services, offered out from Kyoto, Japan and New York, U.S. The two companies plan to merge for more comprehensive services in Spring 2020.

The brand identity for Monozukuri Ventures was heavily influenced by monozukuri, a Japanese term for making things in an excellent and balanced way. ‘By fusing two opposite ideas integrated in harmony, we will empower talented and diverse people to build tangible solutions to create a better future’, said FabFoundry CEO Nobuhiro Seki. With operations in Japan and North America, Monozukuri Ventures will bring together Japanese expertise in high-quality manufacturing along with a global strategy to accelerate hardware startups’ growth.

Monozukuri Ventures will start two new services designed to be solutions for hardware startups: Advanced Manufacturing Fund (codename: AMF), a new early-stage VC fund that helps to grow startups developing advanced manufacturing technologies, and Hardware Startup Studio (codename: HSS), a program that aims to repeatedly build hardware startups. Both new services are to complement DTL and FF’s existing services such as an investment fund for hardware startups and technical consulting services for prototyping and manufacturing.

New services will be more integrated into current efforts by a new team of two companies, as Makers Boot Camp has in-depth experience with Japanese manufacturers to help hardware startups make their products, whereas FabFoundry has supported dozens of American hardware startups with mentoring their founders and connecting to Japanese manufacturers. Both Makers Boot Camp and FabFoundry are advised by a group of industry experts in Monozukuri, manufacturing, investment, hardware startups and more. ‘Following this move, we will double our efforts to help startups develop and manufacture breakthrough products by offering hands-on support, access to capital, technical resources’, said Darma Tech Labs CEO Narimasa Makino.

Since Spring 2016, the two companies have collaborated to pursue the vision of introducing Monozukuri, the art of making things in Japan, to hardware startups all over the world, through a partnership between Japan and the US. In July 2016, the companies launched “Monozukuri Bootcamp”, an acceleration program for hardware startups in New York to connect to Japanese manufacturers by inviting them to Kyoto, Japan for several weeks. In July 2017, “MBC Shisaku Fund I” was formed with an aim to invest in hardware startups in Japan and the US and support their prototyping and mass production needs. As of December 2019, the fund has 26 portfolio companies, 13 in Japan and 13 in the US. The two organizations co-founded “Monozukuri Hardware Startup Consortium”, which promotes hardware startups in Japan through a business plan competition called “Monozukuri Hardware Cup”, the regional finals for the International Hardware Cup in Pittsburgh, PA, and brings promising Japanese hardware startups to the US market.

Rebranding schedule (taking effect as of January 15, 2020)

Darma Tech Labs, Inc. will be rebranded as Monozukuri Ventures Corporation

FabFoundry, Inc. will be rebranded as Monozukuri Ventures, Inc.

Advisors for Monozukuri Ventures

Allen Miner, Founder/CEO of SunBridge Corporation

Dave Mawhinney, Executive Director of Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University

Keiji Imajo, Former CEO of Future Venture Capital

Kenshin Fujiwara, Founder/CEO of Hacarus

Ilana Diamond, Managing Director, AlphaLab Gear

Mitsuhiro Suwa, CEO of Loftwork

Nobuo Sayama, Representative Director & Partner of Integral Corporation

Osamu Tsuji, Founder/CEO of Samco

S. Thomas Emerson, Former Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University

Shigehiko Hattori, Former CEO of Shimadzu

Tristan Bel, Executive Director of NYDesigns


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